Skip to main content

tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  August 9, 2011 8:00pm-11:00pm EDT

8:00 pm
grindle to the perks of the there were no country clubs or airports or stuff we could get rid of and claim victory because they were running a tight shift. >> you asked to be have the will and the patients. what do you think? >> i think we do. i spend a lot of time in the government and the senate at the white house. i worked in the private sector and i do have a strong view that the underestimate the intelligence of our body politic. i think the people fortunately don't spend their lives the way we would washington reading the paper to do not who is ahead of how first base politically. but with the vendors to the issues costs to the two and people generally come up with a pretty good dancer and they are willing to do whatever it takes to go forward. it's one of the things that has made the country great is that people are willing as long as the system is fair to become to
8:01 pm
be sure we have moved away from that. we generated kind of an entitlement society that everybody wants everything now and nothing should ever be taken away. but that is to ask the narrow question would you like another flat screen high-definition tv answer is yes. we all grew up with one if we had one instance four or five every house has a tv it seems. so people will win that maximize their own situation she but if you ask people direct questions broadly people are prepared and willing to make the tough choices to be patient with them and to see us through what i think will be a better future for us and more important for a were kids and grandchildren. thanks very much. >> ladies and gentlemen, john koshkin. thank you very much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
8:02 pm
author louisa thomas talks about her book "conscience a family history of her great-grandfather and his three brothers during world war i. she talked with random house executive john mechem at the tenement museum. this is 45 minutes. >> louisa thomas this course the great granddaughter of norman thomas who ran for president in six consecutive elections on the socialistic prior to the politics he was a protestant
8:03 pm
clergyman and as she explains he often worked in the houses of immigrant families. while his focus was on east harlem, his experience we have been very similar had the focus in the lower east side. nor ms. tallman dreamed of creating a harmonious new durkan finally broken down by race and nationality. and as he would have been heartened by the families who lived in our tenement across the street. we have a recording of a sicilian cuff like woman, josephine, who remembers as a girl she lived next door to a lithuanian family. she recalls that she would call for yondah josette to turn the light on her for her. 60 years later you can hear the pride in her voice for being called upon for that task. it is entirely probable families living in the tenement which is open until the year 1935 discussed or admired norman thomas. tonight we are pleased to discuss his life and work with the author of conscience. she will be signing copies of the book and keep in mind when
8:04 pm
you buy a copy of the book and you are supporting the author, the publisher and the museum. if you choose to become a member this evening we will give you a complimentary copy. tonight's conversation is led by john mechem, executive editor and executive vice president of random house. former editor of newsweek and pulitzer prize-winning author mike and commentator on politics, history and religious faith in america. he's editor-at-large at public media and contributor to the pbs television newsmagazine need to know. after the conversation we will have the opportunity to ask questions and since we are recording tonight's presentation on book tv you'll have to ask your questions from the microphone right here. we won't be able to accept questions from your seat. now please join me in welcoming our guest. [applause]
8:05 pm
>> thank you very much to the tenement museum which has a relatively short time become important part of the fabric of the city you hear a lot about it even in the american south. what i come from and they are instructed not everything that the tenement. but to look and see what it used to be like but thank you for your hospitality and congratulations to louisa who's written i think a wonderful book, deeply researched it is engaging account of her own family which is not always an easy thing to do, and i want to start with some specific questions and then we are going to read a couple things and then there will be a little socialist jeopardy to keep her going. [laughter] we will start with by this book
8:06 pm
now? >> it is a family story about an american family and a time of war and a time when their country was going through some major cultural political and economic and social upheavals. it's a very different than 100 years ago but today it looks more like it does today at the end of world war i and the beginning. during the war, world war i began most americans the assumed the american compact federal government was going to the post office. that's 1914. 1917 happens, suddenly millions of men are being drafted, millions of men see their government working and women,
8:07 pm
too it in a much different way and they're forced to reckon with cautions about what citizens obligation to the country is and what a brothers obligation is to another brother and what the sons and daughters in a way that they just haven't 20 years before. of course the questions just a rise on the day they are planted in a few decades that have come before. i think it is hard for us to realize just how striking with the changes in the beginning of the 20th century but at the same time, we face these questions all the time and we are a country of war. we are also debating the questions that to what extent should we be committing our resources and citizens' lives and our money and our time and
8:08 pm
faith not only to the government but to our public citizen's and so i think it is a perennial question, and the way because the change is so extreme and the kind of transition was violent literally and figuratively, they had to reckon with these questions in a way that i think really brought them to the floor, and looking at the way they did that we can see how these questions still live in our own lives. >> so when you think about the era from tiahrt through willson so the start of the turn-of-the-century ever more rapid industrialization indecent progressive movement gives the social explanation that is ratified and increased by the new deal and endures and some
8:09 pm
for mom to this hour you have as you say elective service systems that engage the population when conflict came up would you say that might be the most striking difference in terms of the issue that got all four of the brothers involved? today we get to choose whether or not we are interested in serving dinner was not so much a choice and we were confronted much more correctly with a conscientious decision of do you fight, do you not fight, is the cause just, do you think that these brothers given some other trace the the is the sort of out of the context would have dealt with the same issues? >> that is an excellent question. the fact that the drafts that
8:10 pm
exist in that time was certainly something that forced the brothers to reckon with the conflict in a way that most people simply do not have to i never once wondered if i was going to have to go to war for my country and i was born well after vietnam. it's not something that has ever crossed my mind. she. i think they saw that what was very real and required a kind of engagement and commitment that surpassed, norman thomas for example didn't actually have the site, he was older than the draft age to the clergymen. he had a large family that depended on him he didn't have to engage in some sort of
8:11 pm
process that tested with or not the country should be doing what it was doing. he chose to, but he chose to because so many people didn't have the choice and he thought there was something odd about that. even the phrase selective service there is an interesting story behind the decision to call it the selective service. when the united states went to war there was debate over whether or not it was drafted out and there was the debate in and the amazing story even after the war of the declaration when the congressman and the military officers what resources they have to command and they need soldiers and the congressman's as i got your not going to use soldiers are you and no one
8:12 pm
drafted him and as late as mid april, weeks after, the service was passing -- they were rejecting the draft as a measure. there was a man named george creel who was a journalist and he set up the committee on public information and it was a propaganda. he was brilliant. he was -- >> it doesn't sound like one. [laughter] >> and, you know, one of the things he suggested doing was calling it selective service because selective appeals to the kind of sense of the elite and suggested choice service.
8:13 pm
you know, they didn't want to call that conscription and wilson actually gave a speech early on in the announcing draft and send a note way conscription is unwilling it is rather -- i don't know the exact phrase but it's rather the decision of people who volunteered in mass. and the conscription when they decided to implement the draft day put up posters and said you have to reach reses you can enlist, join a group that will be called up leader, or you will be deemed to have enlisted. [laughter] >> let's talk about the brothers'. put them in context at the beginning of your screen. who are they, where are they, what's going on? >> there are four thomas brothers.
8:14 pm
the oldest -- all brothers went to princeton. actually, they have a very much the same background. they were the son of a presbyterian minister who was pretty conservative in his ways although very much of the widespread progress a cheetos that held that times were getting better and norman went to princeton where he left to debate. he knew woodrow wilson to the college program professor. afterwards and he became a minister. he actually went to work in the tenement on spring street friend across the island where he was exposed to some pretty extreme degradation although that isn't really what radicalize tim and that is very much the social gospel movement which held basically that the point of christianity was to establish
8:15 pm
the kingdom of god on earth and this is very much remind protestant thinking. so tons of young men coming out of, you know, the middle class and they were obligated to make the world a better place. he then went to the seminary, pretty liberal seminary and then he goes to the charge of fifth avenue, mary is a socialite and sister living a very comfortable life and he and his wife decide to move to east harlem and work in the tenements mostly italians and hungarian those were the two largest immigrant populations. the population is just coming
8:16 pm
off the explosion of immigrants and 92 million or some people and that is when he really sort of started to see that the way the country was organized was not sustainable or just and things need to change and he started on that path. when he went to princeton they became an engineer, quite conservative, very happy that be fair to others and, you know, as many of these young men were, but when the war began evan
8:17 pm
thomas, their brother was much more tortured and he saw that there were some -- he's all this effort that liberal christians tended to make who were not doing anything and were not hypocritical about the satisfaction involved. when the war broke out in europe they came back over to be the injector in the united states in the war and constantly to push the boundaries in order to show that he was being on true to himself fighting for freedom and keeping some kind of way for liberty life. then the youngest wasn't sure of what to do.
8:18 pm
struggled and kind of didn't know what he wanted to do, thought about being a missionary -- >> the three mighty oaks in front of you. >> yeah. >> his mother once sent him a letter saying why do you think that there's no place in princeton for a boy such as you? [laughter] he wasn't so sure that the war was a good idea but he was not ready to go to present that. so she's a lot more like most of us. >> there must have been a mother. >> there was. she was pretty extraordinary. she had her own path. she had grown up in the missionaries and then her father had been the first president in the reconstruction south but then she went on to minister and
8:19 pm
have a very conventional life and she was actually one of -- beebee the most interesting person to be in some ways because she really struggled to negotiate between her children even as her views were being challenged by them >> talk about norman and walk us through the real crisis the brothers face of the question of service estimate what became a pacifist at the end of 1916 before the united states entered the war mike and he became involved in the organizations, and hi war organizations and developer is some and it was a
8:20 pm
very nascent structures that had become the aclu after and the christian pacifist agreed and he sort of started working and they worked for political channels and also kind of grass-roots organizations and didn't believe in politics and just wanted to -- he had a kind of martyrdom street and she decided to come back to the united states to take a stand. he believed he was eating the call to freedom and arthur kind of went back and forth. very adventuresome. >> arthur was my favorite.
8:21 pm
why don't you read this. >> it to be a problematic notion. it's hard to say just what it is and it's easy to see it. it can make a person self righteous. it can be used to justify any action with the nazi party titled the new for conscience to read it can encourage egoism or full speech to say to myself be true. it can encourage intolerance and responsibility which sometimes seems to me what's possible even if it isn't perfectly right. >> so how did that wonderful definition of conscience play out?
8:22 pm
>> after norman the cells themselves as the leader of the party, he daniel wrote an essay about him or wrote a book in which he included norman and he -- there is a kind of famous distinction between the ethics of responsibility and of conscience and he said the problem with norman thomas is that he left his -- he thought of the state should have an ethics of conscience. he was much more alert the government is supposed to make. >> that the story of the brothers does illustrate the leavitt's and the dangers of thinking too much about how to be true to yourself a and what obligations you have to other
8:23 pm
people and that is something that norman lactide. right after evin had gone on a hunger strike he wrote a letter in which he said no man looks at himself, the real challenges to live among other people. and to fight for white, to make sure that the of the kind of responsibility that you have and that they to be true to themselves he basically was coming out of the background in which was the altar of that statement of ethics. so, if there was a balancing act , they talked about freedom of conscience. so the idea of freedom of conscience is that everybody can -- everybody has the freedom to
8:24 pm
act. but it was something they were not able to. you can't. they could not solve the problems that they faced but they felt you had engaged in them. >> what norman thomas's legacy be persistent of the culture of freedom of conscience or is it more specifically 12 words what we would think of as of violence and carry tosk attempting to make gentle the life of this world really avoiding violence at all cost? , tall cost a bundle come back to that. >> boreman didn't remain but i don't see why you also have to make -- and the freedom of
8:25 pm
conscience met in part violence because what is not imposing your will on another person. >> thursday since. >> there's defense, too. >> there's the whole world war ii fingers. >> there's the world war ii thing. there's no question. but i also think that he was involved a number of nuclear disarmament and i would hope to speak to both. >> and he became -- the system was suspended after pearl harbor? >> it was a moot point at that point. but sort of a different situation.
8:26 pm
he had seen too much and a kind of ugly leader of fascism in the country and he worried that in light of the great depression and in light of the abuses that have gone on that were back on the country would lead to fascism here. we sort of hear that and kind of can't believe that since it is the greatest generation, but he worried about that. >> now, the one story that i grew up knowing about norman thomas is probably apocryphal, but you want to tell the story? >> sure. >> you knew this was coming. >> i knew this was coming.
8:27 pm
so, one of the causes in the 1930's was he was working on behalf of the sharecroppers in the south who were being murdered and cliched and just unbelievable things were happening to them. there were drive-by shootings and unbelievable situations. when they tried to unionize they got much worse and got it under a thousand. he'd been out of town by men carrying shotguns and was written letter after letter saying you've got to do something. you've got to do something. he goes to roosevelt and says you've got to deutsch of the. it is unconscionable, and roosevelt goes you know what, norman ayman a better politician than you are. i know these people and we have
8:28 pm
to wait. it's just going to take them time to read and he said you can't wait. this is the response would say you can't let this go on. this is what is happening in the south. ultimately they came and it takes a lot of time, but you can say may be in the 1930's they wouldn't allow the economic climate for roosevelt to, and the national guard to change things. maybe you have to wait 30 years. a lot of bad things happened in the south and 30 years when it came to racial violence. >> well, one of the things that fdr said of the conscience was awakened when eleanor brought him to this part of new york and a insofar as he was able to
8:29 pm
protect the values. how do you -- where do you come out on the issue of the limit of politics but the demand of justice? no one would argue now that because of the failure of reconstruction and the institution of jim crow and the robber barons of the north and the economic oppression that many social reforms should have had an earlier, many social reforms that should happen right now will not because another man in the white house also believed is a better politician than anyone who wonders and and it tends to be an occupational hazard for people behind that desk. where do you come out? is it the tragedy or are there moments where individuals do make this difference?
8:30 pm
>> she likes to say if she were not married she would have run for norman thomas. i think she's one of those individuals who made a difference actually and fdr was, too. .. i mean, i think that having
8:31 pm
comments at one point got into a fight with your bit about politics. he said i don't understand the political moves are making. don't you understand the state has to respond? the president in a democracy of responsibility to come to you know, what the proper adtran majority. we're all sorts of things. you know, do i think that norman was in effect if socialized? on effective politician is a socialist? he was a better politician than norman. too i think the place where norman in the american political system? yes, absolutely. do i think there should be maybe more of those? i think so. i mean, i think that the house
8:32 pm
of a democracy, you know, requires open exchange of ideas and the kind of battles that he and norman and his friend base about do you reform from the inside or outside? to get a seat at the table? what is the best way to get your point across our message across to do justice? we just maybe aren't as noisy about them as people once were. >> well, that is a question i want to ask you about, generational responsibility. do you think that your great-grandfather's generation did the media and political landscape give him a bigger voice as a socialist candidate, as they figure almost always of
8:33 pm
dissent than we currently are able, whatever reason, just voices outside the mainstream? or, does your generation, who has created this thing called the inter-web, and is that going to open this up? >> well, i think it's -- the internet is opening it up and also drying it out. it's hard to say for sure. i think that, you know, the american political system doesn't allow for their party very easily. socialism was a viable idea actually in 1912, using 6% of the vote. now anyone put a socialist, dave
8:34 pm
b. camino, construed evil actually. >> or the recipient of a wall street bailout? >> or the recipient a wall street yell out. so yeah, i think there is a little more generational complacent the then there was in his generation. maybe because we don't have to go toward. maybe because it was just our world or do you know, you could get access to the president. i mean, it was just an easier -- it's a mac it was mahler, but we now know -- we now know the things you don't one-out certainly have a tendency to get out. why isn't there in this highly educated, highly affluent
8:35 pm
generation of which i remember a higher level of social engagement in a way that we would recognize as they attend the unlawful from the early part of this century? >> i think some people say there is more then, you know, more than meets the eye. i think we can make the argument that people are involved in kindness community projects. you know, to a degree -- i mean, it might not be interesting in politics, but interest in it and starting renewable and that of social lines. i think that one of your early questions is probably the answer. there's not a a kind of demand
8:36 pm
upon my generation that there once was. there's no draft. there's not very much with it. in a way resort of revert back to your own interaction with federal government, you know, the dmv. your federal government, your passport. so, i don't think -- i don't think we should have a draft again. >> i think we should. >> that's a different debate. that's actually an interesting debate anything. there are compelling arguments that we ask a lot of our -- of our servicemen and i think that the recruitment process is kind of gnarly.
8:37 pm
you know, i think there should be more equitable sacrifice. >> the reason i'm bringing this up is reading the book, i kept coming back to here are these brothers thoroughly engaged, electrified political time, projection of force, a president who had trouble with congress, but you manage to suspend civil liberties and sound somewhat familiar, but one difference that kept coming back to my mind was because there is not a draft, because there is not the possibility that the upper-middle-class in harms way, then it all becomes slightly academic. i submit that if we approach the
8:38 pm
vietnam era draft we conserve nationally, military all that, if that happens is that when one implausibly believes it would have been iraq as 2004 or would we still be in afghanistan? >> i mean, that's what i just said here this is a debate we can actually have because you could make an argument. at the same time, it is just a kind of academic question. i don't think we're going to have it. >> your great-grandfather would say we should have these academic arguments. don't go plainest trna -- fdr on me. >> yeah, one of the things to remember about these brothers and one of the reasons looking at the stories is valuable as
8:39 pm
they were really working out how to answer some of these questions and there is this urgency because there were no questions and we felt them. and these are questions that we just don't feel, you know, the kind of tension between your responsibilities as an individual company or responsibility of the citizens, at six versus morality. these all sound academic terms. when it came down to it, thick are you going to die for your country? are you going to change society in such a way that it is not as sunny quote, not -- i mean, we have these huge structural problems and you've got a poverty rate in children of lake 22% back in new mexico. there were some really, really big things going on and they're not questions most of us wake up and think about. i certainly don't.
8:40 pm
i'm lucky. you know, i am lucky that i got to live my life and pursue my opportunities and, you know, do what i want to do. it's not for everyone, so -- >> well, i bring this up because i find the book a compelling -- a sort of raises these issues in a compelling and implicit way, which is a very difficult thing to do and i think anyone reading it now will find quite resonant everything that's going on and unfolding around the news now and forever more. i'm going to ask you to read this and then take some questions from you all. we've got a quotation of the letter. >> right or wrong, he loved his
8:41 pm
family. in 1941, he was publicly speaking out against the united chief entry into world war ii, his son had been dwelling house a second volunteer to drive and lenses for the british peer just before he shipped out in november 1941, norman to have a letter. and a cruel and ugly road you make choices -- you've chosen what is for you ensure the best possible route. more than i can tell you, will be missing your loving you and wishing you the external good fortune and still more hope which may sustain you. despite our follies are made for better things than constant exploitation of recurring more. it will be great happiness always to carry a watch until he returned to claim it. he was my grandfather and i have that watch now. it's a reminder of more than my father's love for his teammate. it's more than again his desire for freedom.
8:42 pm
it's reminder that conscienceless machination he learned long before. >> a look at should have been, louisa thomas. thank you. [applause] now we have instructions which you must follow conscientious leave. >> so people have questions, they can come might appear for them. >> disarmament has been taking notes. that's never a good sign. >> could you talk about gorman's inspiration by the work of john reid. >> share, while john reid -- a socialist in 1989 -- 1917 and
8:43 pm
john reid, like many across the world was hugely inspired by this. so walter lippman and so were woodrow wilson. woodrow wilson's war address he says basically how we treat russia will be the test for democracy. i gave norman became -- inspired by the utopia project as john reid was. when he applies the socialist party he wrote a long letter explaining why he was really kind of not totally for the socialist party.
8:44 pm
he said he and the midwest. the nonpartisan mike and i fear the social party is not respected for the liberties and i'm not a marxist and i really fear any state, whether it's capitalistic or socialistic, and that claims to have any control over the minds and work of men. and his altercation was returned to him because he had not felt out the other side of the confirmation. so i think that he -- if you knew john reid, i don't know. at this point in time, generally you knew people, other socialists or scott nearing, you know, other will who are kind of part of that circle. i mean, it's tragic in its own
8:45 pm
way. and they were following different paths, but -- >> to what extent that this father had been going on in europe for the past three years, especially for adding who'd been in scotland. what did he environment tank as opposed to what ralph and arthur? >> i mean, at least huge. i mean, world war i was just unbelievable. i mean, 1.8 million germans, 1.7 million russians, 1.4 million frenchmen. i mean, even in the u.s. you ask about 50,000, but really the fighting on the lasted for six
8:46 pm
months. there were something like 820 minute day. that's just unbelievable. you know, and then was over in scotland, but also in london a little bit. and you now, he saw what it was like to come home without friends and things like that and also what it was like to be in london when bombs are flying, but everyone responds to violence in every culture response to violence in different ways. he was actually wounded, but he remained proud of what he did and thought it was the right thing until the end of the word. so you know, think that they were well aware of how
8:47 pm
devastating the violence was, but i don't think it predictably, you know, turn them one way or the other. the extremity of the violence is one of the reasons why they thought they had to be fighting for something greater. it was one of the reasons that had to be -- it would only be a just war and the lives of what would be justified by something so great could emerge. and that's also one of the reasons why it's so hard to give it up, you know, it's just appalling. >> anything else? >> k., li said. actually, just to jump right out for each aside, the civil war in the imagination of these brothers, especially given the fact their mother as he said was
8:48 pm
in the south as i'm assuming whether or not her own parents were abolitionists or not, but i think of these brothers and if this had been 18 teams, northern elites involved with understand and morality within that protestant churches, they would've banned the radical judge, sort of fumbles leading the brigades in certain ways. and so, your point that it this much violence is only worth some higher moral cause and say like the main syndication, obviously they don't see that in world war ii and. do they talk about world war i in conscious miss at all? >> feature really heavily on the example of the abolitionist and they are trying to eradicate war in the same way that slavery had once been eradicated. and they said that that would be
8:49 pm
impossible, whatever. they said no, that have been. war two can be eradicated. and where is the kind of slavery in some way. and they absolutely saw themselves as inheriting that tradition. you know, it's interesting because the civil war was only really a generation or two away in this time and there is congressman isaac sharewood who sat out during the debate on whether or not to go to war, i have seen -- he was in the civil war and he said i've seen were. we cannot go to war, but i think there are certain historians don't say every generation site so were. >> anything else? again, thank you. her book is "conscience."
8:50 pm
[applause]
8:51 pm
booktv continues now with university of maryland professor, carla peterson and her book "black gotham," she describes the lives of upper-class african-americans in 19th century new york city. she discussed her book at new york jefferson market library in february for about an hour 10 minute. >> i want to start up my talk with two quotes. they are both from the prologue
8:52 pm
of our book cannot have a little explanation for them, but they introduce why i decided to write the book. so the first quote is in my prose from the prologue. we still hold certain truths about african-americans to be self-evident, that the freeze 19th century black americans refers to enslaved people, that new york state before the civil word denotes a place of freedom, that? in new york city designates heartland, that the black community positive a classic and unify society that a black elite did not exist until well into the 20th century. lives in a new york forbears polite such assumptions. they were born free at a time when slavery was still legal in new york city. they lived in racially mixed neighborhood, first in lower manhattan after the civil war in
8:53 pm
brooklyn at a time when harlem is a mere village. they were part of new york's small but significant communities and specifically its elite class. so the first impulse for my writing the book was my desire to overturn these assumptions, assumptions that we live with almost on a daily basis and therefore to point to the significance of the black elite in new york city. so was a professional and post if you appear the second quote is from the epigraph of the prologue and it is from toni morrison's beloved. denver with the unit now and feeling it through beloved and the more fine points she made, the more details she provided, the more beloved like 10. so she anticipated the questions by giving blood to describes her mother and grandmother told her in a heartbeat. denver spoke to love that listened in the two took the
8:54 pm
best they could to create what really happened, how it really was something only staff the new because she alone had the mind for it and the time afterward to shape it. so the second quote points to one of my great concerns in writing the book, the ati to recover my family's past, not my mother, but my great, great grandparents, great grandparents and so forth and realizing they were at their memories and not memories. so how could i tell the story of memories that were not my own and that it just come down to me and scraps? and how could i then give blood and heart he to the scraps? so that was my second much more personal motivation for writing the book. and indeed, i have a hard time trying to give blood in a heartbeat to the scraps they found because they started with almost nothing, which was a wonderful story. the full story would be a poly
8:55 pm
false story. basically i was told they had a great grandfather that had been born in haiti, whose name is phoebe the goose by anne at the time of the haitian revolution he left haiti, went to paris, became a farmer says them and then to new york and anglicized his name to fill up the. the story of his half-truth. there was no haiti in the background, no trip to paris. he was born actually in new jersey and hoboken, moved very quickly to new york city and did become a farmer says. so i was faced with a real problem they are. and as i started my research to find family stories, what i discovered is there and actually been a real will to commemorate among 19th century black new yorkers that forget name was not her way of life.
8:56 pm
they started first of all in commemorations, for example, the important events like the abolition of the slave trade, january 11808 and commemorated every year after on the same day and ceremonies and parades. they commemorated the abolition of slavery in the state of fear, which which was july 41827. they have newspapers are colored american freedom struggle where they read about themselves and the desire to commemorate. they try to erect statues, for example, henry helen kurnit win might mention a little later is really not essential to this talk, but he would've been a very important black leader. they wanted to create a memorial in his honor. they manage to create, but by and large did not manage to
8:57 pm
preserve. so the problem of preservation became a tremendous fun. when you are an under source community comunidad tests on and resources, how do you preserve? is so much, last by the wayside. of course the best example i can give that all of you are familiar with this burial ground in downtown new york, how it was the black cemetery all the way through it the 18th century got destroyed in 1795 because of real estate speculation, would also new york. so the cemetery was taken over to playground for new lots to be sold, houses to be built, better outcome et cetera appeared and then there was the problem of the archives. the earliest new york archive was established by john penn tired, a very well-known white elite men.
8:58 pm
in 1804 the new york historical society. black new yorkers had to wait until the 1920s for arturo schomburg to establish the schomburg center. and yet, basically the archives were ultimately my only resource. the only place i had to go to since my family had given me so little. so what i do in the book and i do want to point this out is the book unfolds on two levels. on one level it's the story of my search, however to the archives looking for materials, finding how i put them together in the second level of courses the story itself. so i started out in the schomburg and i was really lucky to find very early on to scrap the pages in an archival connection. and then then i found the
8:59 pm
obituary in a scrapbook of my great-grandfather and then my great, great grandfather. so this is the first scrap book page. it is my great-grandfather and of course her name was philip augustus brey. i recognized him immediately. to give you a quick thumbnail sketch, was born in 1823, died in 1891. he was from a fairly poor family. his father died when he was young. he went to one of the public schools. they called them a colored school. he afterwards went to train with james mcewen smith who is whenever early doctors and pharmacists and was an apprentice in smith's pharmacy years. that's been enabled him to mentor the college of pharmacy at the city of new york and he got a degree in 1844, black man from the college of pharmacy. then he established a
9:00 pm
pharmacy -- a drugstore and downtown new york. it is on the corner but was frankfurt and gold street and part of pace university as they are now. she made quite a bit of money through his drugstore. the money he had he gave back to two causes. one, education of black children and the other is church. when he moved to brooklyn in 1878, he settled there. in 1883, set low who has been mayor of oakland appointed him to the berkeley board of education. yet the first black seat on the brooklyn board of education. so that is my great-grandfather. this is his father-in-law, my great, great grandfather. you can check your family tree. philip white marries elizabeth king -- guignon. his parents were haitian.
9:01 pm
he was born in new york in 1813, died in the early 1880s, went to school that i will come back and talk about later, did a variety of odd jobs come and married my great, great grandmother died very young. i know nothing about her. in his second marriage he married into the race family. they were prominent family and cornelia spread fire, peter williams granik was a doctor and had as find a seat come a drugstore. said he was batting to the trickster is a pharmacist. he had no training, but it could become a pharmacist. he too was very devoted to saint phillips. as the other treasure trove that i found at the schomburg, with the kerry williamson papers and if you look down on the family tree, you will see him there. i won't go into any detail and
9:02 pm
maybe that doesn't show up too well, but in doing the family research, the women on the right is mary joseph lyons and she is the sister of my great, great grandmother, rebecca marshall. and she married this man, albert lyons. and i bring them that because i'm not going to talk about them much in this talk tonight. i bring them that he cares albro lyons said to his daughter, marie chef, she's on the family tree, that he wanted to write the story, the history of this generation, but he never got further than the title. and the title he picked was the gentleman in black. so we said to his daughter, i am not going to be able to do it. i want you to do it. so in the same collection of papers, we have a type manuscript of about 85 pages,
9:03 pm
pretty much in draft form that organizationally attract foreign. and what the riches that they spend a vast output she was going to try and return a more and she titled it, memories of yesterday, all of which i sought an part of i was, and not a biography. so she wrote the 85 pages, but didn't get it published. so i consider my book, "black gotham" to be the final event, the final publication of this idea of writing the history of the gentleman in black, which goes well back into the 19th century. and i just hope they are looking now listening, watching reading, that they approve of what i did. but what i want to say is that the words really stuck with me. the scrapbook pages that i found and then saying that she wrote her memoir from the vast output
9:04 pm
of fugitive scraps. so i see matt furyk very much as a scrapbook. i choose an event or a story, and tell it. it's a chronological story, but they are at i can't possibly fill in and i don't try to. so i think of my book is a scrapbook. they also talk about it as a partial history, meaning i'm not going to give an entire history. i'm not even trained to give an objective history. my history is partial because it's about my family and it's because it's only a part of blackbeard history and because i am partial to it. it's also a chronological history, but very much a cyclical one because what it is his traces the ups and downs of black new yorkers. every time they feel they've made social political economic progress, something happens to slap them in the face and bring them down again.
9:05 pm
lastly though, i also think of it is a spatial history and that's why he titled the book, "black gotham," to show the way in which -- the degree to which so much of their life was formed by where they lived, does video got some in the neighborhood event. so i'm going to name the five spaces. i think of the spaces as concentric circles and i'm going to name the five of them now and then i'm going to come back and talk about a couple of them. if i try to do the whole thing will be here all night. the first one that is what alexander crummell, one of the members of the black elite called the leading citizens of new york and vicinity, basically the black elite. the second is the black community and i'm sure that if they turn you off your lap, the black community, this, that and the other. so just give you a sense of members for those of you who
9:06 pm
like numbers, in 1840, the number of black inhabitants was about 16,400 out of 330,000. and decline to about 12,500 added 5,014,000 in 1860. so just some kind of ballpark numbers. the third which i'm going to come back as the city itself, gotham, where they lived in racially mixed neighborhoods and had a variety of contact with whites and blacks. so that is sent and it will definitely come back to. and beyond gotham, the contacts that they had with blacks and other cities like philadelphia, boston, so for. and last week to one of my audiences audiences there is a man from philly and we cannot do both go to get the difference in black philadelphia boston went very different than new york and
9:07 pm
we can talk about the q&a if you want to. finally not the least important as a sense of being a citizen of the world, that they are cosmopolitan, that they belong to the entire world and were part of the entire world. so let me start by talking a little bit about the elite in this idea of the wide circle of the leading citizens of new york and vicinity. so the first thing i want to point out is the way in which education was really absolutely foundational to disbelieved. if nothing else i could say, this is a book about education. education, education, education. what you hear now is not new at all. turn on new york wanting you hear about the school system, et cetera, et cetera. same issues that then. this is the most famous school of the african preschooler named
9:08 pm
albertson preschool where my great, great grandfather, peter guignon went to school with a bunch of young men who turn out to be real leaders of the black community, both the new york and beyond. i'll just than the ones that want to come and talk about later. there was george downing, charles woodson from his brother and genes mccuen smith. so the valleys there were very much the values of a liberal arts education, the solid foundation of a liberal or education. in addition to that commentary development through education and other areas. character was one, respectability and other. the acquisition of wealth. this is new york. physically work hard, become very skilled in your tree during your profession and make money in the process. but then give money back to the
9:09 pm
community. and finally, this idea cosmopolitanism can read shakespeare, read wordsworth and have a sense of the entire world. so what i think is really important to think here is the way in which we say black american or african american, and image immediately comes to mind. what i want to point out is they are very dynamic process of making identity in this period. people have been kidnapped and brought inflated to the new world to the united states to new york and they didn't become black americans are african-americans overnight, but it's a process of struggle and of trying to forge identity and that's what the schooling was all about. good to pass on circle number one come to pass on circle number two is the black community itself with all the institutions literary society,
9:10 pm
political societies and so forth. and i'm not going to spend much time talking about these. we can come back during the q&a. they were mainly male organizations. women are not members. they are definitely not officers. they are invited as companions to a talk like now. but they would never be a member of the greenwich village society for historic preservation, but they could accompany their spouse to it. and that was an incredible research problem for me, which i can talk about later. the other thing -- so that basically is the black community and i'm going to pass on. so education schools were one in churches the other and my family's church of saint philip's episcopal church is down here in lower manhattan now and heart-lung. and this is i'm going to than
9:11 pm
the rest of my time talking. and i have a section of a book titled distance and proximity because what i want to point out is some matter how distant lack new yorkers were from their white counterparts from either poor natives born irish immigrants or even wealthier ways, they were another -- there is still proximity because they lived downtown in racially mixed neighborhood. in words five, word six, wordy. they were always close to others, people who are not like them. not necessarily in the same house with the same tenement, but maybe 10 tenement on the street or at lease talked about. what this led to were some really surprising -- to be surprising into them also, i predict it will contacts with
9:12 pm
waves. and i'm just going to mention a couple of things that i talk about and i think make this point. the first is all new yorkers experienced the same indignity of living in new york, the same filth, the same pigs who are running around, eating garbage and knocking people over inviting you in the leg. the same disease like smallpox, like cholera, yellow fever unless you are wealthy escape town. but the other thing may be more important is this idea of what i call wednesday, that there's no real set protocol for race relations. he would think that in the 1840s, 50s, 60s but the city in which racial discrimination, hostility is so intense that every boundary would be tightly drawn and you would really know what to do. and yet they encountered what i called wednesday night at the
9:13 pm
are rich a pair but see if i can switch back my new toy. in her memoir, says rating for colored folks depended upon the whims of respect in state drivers. and she goes on to talk about going to school, how at times she was free to get on the railroad car, no problem. at other times she was like now, you have to wait for the colored car. that would be one example. another would be going to crystal palace, which was agreed that they put on in the 1850s model after london's crystal palace at this great exhibit of and newspapers of black new yorkers have been casting the horoscope as to whether colored people would be admitted. so one day you could be admitted, and other not. then there were high cultural events. and anyway, the, the black
9:14 pm
coleco that class would trump race. but if they had education understood kind of high culture that they would be free to go. and that was true a lot of times they went to the opera, the plays, valier's bookstore, the appeals are gallery, but in one instance, they were forbidden to enter. and this is when one of their round, an opera singer named elizabeth taylor greenfield came up from philadelphia, black singer, to sing in the hall in which she was to sing did not have a segregated section. so the black elite were turned away and told they couldn't enter commiserated basie brouhaha and were finally allowed to get in. so that is to show the confusion, there will wednesday that operated in new york for the black elite and for all black new yorkers.
9:15 pm
so for the remainder -- for my next half of the talk, i'm going to focus on this area, something that dana asked me to do and i'm going to focus specifically on three sites. one is broadway, another is lawrence street, which was parallel to thompson street north of houston and the third is a lawrence street school. the third is the african growth theaters located on mercer street. and what to show two things. one is the way in which distant and proximity philip teemed in this area and the other is the u.k. see a way to also point out one talking about what happened in certain places to point out some of the moral values underlying the happenings. some going to talk a little bit about the weight lead. the white elite started downtown like everybody did and gradually
9:16 pm
start to move up, try to flee the very thing they were creating, commercialization, brouhaha in the city. so they came up to the village to st. johns park end up broadway and at a certain point of course we moved north of bleecker street. and there is that phase above bleecker st. and that is where the upper 10 minutes they called lived and they were also in the bunk st. lafayette place area. the a.i. to read now a little passage from my book in which i talk about george foster and the way in which he captures broadway and not. so going on the way out broadway, sturdy maybe a little at below houston and going out. i talk about the way in which
9:17 pm
the bond street lafayette area is very nice and quiet. but was not quiet was broadway, an avenue march by contrast, writer george foster well captured its flavor in his most recent book in the new york incisive. there is the contrast of morning and afternoon. at daybreak, broadway was touched in solitary. if you were about could amuse themselves watching the flying gallop furiously to have the first cut at the new garbage. later in the day however enough for people would search through the street. a human river in a fresh air and filming toward the sea. then there were the contrast of building. among some of the truly fine structures, others have sprung up haphazardly, a brick schoolhouse or copper burn here, penitentiary or pounding. send the copyright depended on where you lived, down a rotten cellar door, straight ahead a plate glass window stuffed with
9:18 pm
gaudy cashmere's mlb must. held together by wire clothes lines. but foster failed to mention was the contrast between day and night because come nightfall the area around houston street would be overrun with people. customers in search of good food, good drink, good entertainment and yes, good sex. the area had become a center of the sex trade or everywhere in hotels in the private sufferings of restaurants and absurd streaky rooms in the that line the streets and streets were they handed out cards. walt whitman was certain that in no other place codifies show itself so it can be terribly. so, that is broadway. then i want to move on to my second place, which is the lawrence street school for
9:19 pm
colored children located a few blocks north of houston. and i do not -- unfortunately i don't have an image of it. and this is where my great-grandfather -- migrate to my great grandfather goes to the mulberry street school in my great, great grandfather goes to the lawrence street school. and i know a lot about my great-grandfather because of the very linked to you that she that this man, george downing wrote and published in the brooklyn to the senate the time of my great-grandfather's death. so my great-grandfather was named thomas wait, that he was a white man from northern england. he says absolutely nothing about philip's mother, but from looking at philips death certificate, says that she comes from jamaica. her name was elizabeth steele. she was undoubtedly black. she's the one who because of
9:20 pm
her, make great grandfather is labeled as colored or mulatto. i don't know what they matter whether she was flavor for you. i don't know whether they married. i don't know how they ended up in the united states, the thomas dies in 1835 in an attempt to elizabeth steele white to get her children and education and she gets -- philip goes to the lawrence street school. and in one of these serendipitous moments of research, i was at the new york historical society than looking through the public school records. some 90 volumes that handwriting and i come across this note that says that the public school society twice paid my great-grandfather in january 25 and then on 281840, $3 for making fires and african public
9:21 pm
school number two for a period of months. so the building was cold and he was paid to keep the building war by making fires. i also found on on june 111841 public schools with adp does it this way $15 for cleaning them whitewashing primary school number seven. so you see in what hard times they were and how they really had to scramble. so philip went to this school and the boys principal was charles reason and he was the one who it gone to school with my great-grandfather at the mulberry school -- street school in the 1820s. so what i think is so significant tears at the mulberry street school, weight teachers have taught these young black men, peter guignon, charles reason, better another
9:22 pm
lawrence street school, black teachers are teaching black youth. so this active mentorship was so incredibly important for the elite. many different kinds of courses. he studied latin and history, both ancient many different kinds of courses. he studied latin in history, both ancient and modern. and then 25 years later as charles reason is a teacher, the same teacher. and this is what she says about 10. cultured, refined, claimed to be a little supercilious was quite intolerant of mediocrity. he instinctively shunned the ordinary and commonplace and kept himself aloof from all that was awkward and unseemly. he could and would teach, but only if alaska's right choice in the selection of his pupils. those willing and able to submit to prophecies found compensation far in excess of exaction.
9:23 pm
attack of the study, developed the study for steady-state to those mentally alert, aspiring intelligent he disclosed in shares. satisfaction in wonder, whoever could be trained to enjoy what he enjoyed in the way please tend have measureless content as complete as exception. so i don't know whether you'd like to have a master teacher, but that's what he was. so philip was according to george downing a very good student, worked very hard and did very well at the lawrence street school. so i'm graduation he needed to learn a trade. so his mother, elizabeth, with the help of george downing placed him first with patrick reason. so patrick is charles older brother i think and he had become an engraver. he had worked. he did practice with the
9:24 pm
engraver from britain, stephen kimber i think have become quite a well-known engraver and he took philip into a shop as an apprentice. it didn't work out. so downing says that three months probation satisfied parent and mastered the apprentice had not the slightest aptitude for the work. so then philip came forward with his own idea and pronounced that he wanted to be a pharmacist. so that is when he was sent to a printed with james mcewan smith in his pharmacy on west broadway and because he had a two-year apprenticeship he was able to go to the college of pharmacy and you know the rest of the story. so what i want to point out not only that these amendments are so up, but also they were businessmen in their own right. i want to emphasize the degree to which entrepreneurship was so important in the black community
9:25 pm
as the hardware show that you are working hard, the satisfaction of doing really well, becoming really skilled in your trade or your profession and finally as i said, making money in order to buy property, become a property owner, be able to vote because there is a two and $50 minimum to vote and in order to give back to the community. said george downing had a store on broadway north of bleecker -- right above leaker. he placed ads in the new york daily tribune that posters of such specialties of pickled oysters in both turkey and was appealing into both white white and black customers. patrick reason engraving spot was on bond street and was
9:26 pm
patient dies by the families on bond street, the white elite with last names like word, schermerhorn, and in turn, low, et cetera. so these men were doing very well. wealth was not the only important thing for the black elite as they said e4. one was respect -- another was respect ability. you have to behave in a respectable way as well as kerry terry. so characters the formation -- the moral formation of the south and respectability is the outward manifestation. if you're not brave moral person, if you work hard, go to church, treat your family well and so forth, then it would automatically show on the outside improper behavior, proper forms of dress and so forth. so it was as important -- probably more important than
9:27 pm
well in acquiring and becoming part of the black elite. to give you a sense of -- let me see, so that's my great grandfather, philip white. so think of him as the image of respectability, okay? so he has to start store, and makes quite a bit of money, promotes black education, he is the pillar of saint philip's episcopal church. he is mr. respectability himself. so i now want to go on to the disrespectful because the kids an idea about this respectability -- of respectability by looking at this respectability. so here he gives. you can turn to my family tree. this is my great, great grandparent, joseph marshall and elizabeth t. let marshall. this is elizabeth's brother. he is my great great great grand
9:28 pm
uncle. and his name is james hewitt and the only way i could really give you a flavor of what he is like us to read the passage from a book, so i'm going to do a little reading now. the details of hewitt's career fascinating that incomplete. he was a member of the african growth theater formed by william brown in 1821. so this is a location on mercer street. they gave you broadway, lawrence street and now this is mercer street. so the african growth theater formed by william brown in 1821. initially the aspen grove was simply a tea garden in brown's backyard, where black new yorkers congregated for musical events and social activities. once the theater company was formed, he played in different locations until brown opened his own space on mercer street in 1822. from then until the early 1830s, hewitt performed with
9:29 pm
rounds company and also in many other venues close to home, the military guardian in brooklyn, somewhat farther afield in philadelphia, saratoga in alexandria, virginia and even across the seas in london and south america. hulett aspire to be a pure shakespearian terror. he played the lead role in richard the third and also gave solo performance is a scenes from a fellow. much like other budding actors of the day, he honed his craft by imitating famous shakespearean performers like admin team. some of hewitt's other roles were more explicitly subversive however. , indirectly hinting at subordination resistance to black americans. ..
9:30 pm
>> so it's not necessarily his acting or politics that his family, so offensive. they might have enjoyed watching him and the rules of richard iii or the king, but racism made him go in a dangerous activity. from the start, white new yorkers were hostile to brown enterprise. the complaint about malaise from that t. garden. they object to the theater staging of shakespeare's most popular play of the day and presented a brown's aggressive recruitment of white customers.
9:31 pm
in 1822, commodores burst out into the open. the police raided the theater during a january performance and arrested the actors. a group followed suit in august storming of the theater and causing a riot. hewitt assumed to have the skill to bodily harm although brown was severely beaten. it's also true that hulett could single-handedly stroke of bad publicity that must have made his family cringe. first, there were reports possibly true, possibly not come about his performance is that was on the stereotype of the child like black. pamphleteer siren snipes insisted that when hewitt simbel let's he translated the lyrics into black dialect, reciting lines [inaudible] is a heart that never left for the disabled. british actor charles matthews who had presented him while
9:32 pm
touring the united states also satirized and in public. returning to london, mathews created a show based on his american trip in which he mocked his strange and ludicrous alterations to hamlet which included his singing of the real negro melody at the end of the performance. hewlett responded by publishing a rebuttal when a local newspaper. defending his own acting abilities as well as the right of blacks to perform shakespeare. although a laudable act of self-defense, the letter also opened a hewlett up to more bad publicity. then there were hewlett's repeated problems with the law. in some cases, he was a victim or a mere bystander. when he decided to open a shop which was a dry cleaners in 1823 to make ends meet, a competitor beat him up. in 1825, hewlett took a position
9:33 pm
as stewart on board a ship but was obliged to testify in court after a passenger was accused of repeatedly assaulting the only other passenger on board. but in later years, hewlett turned perpetrator. in 1835, he signed up as the ships to word. while still on port he was arrested and convicted of stealing various articles from the ship including several bottles of wine and porter and served a six month sentence. in 1837, he was accused of seducing and abandoning a white woman and was sentenced to one months of hard labor. later the same year, he was caught stealing a watch from the house of a man who just died and was returned to prison. despite his please, gentlemen, please don't put me in the newspapers. it will hurt my characters come his misdeeds were reported in the press. after this episode, hewlett disappears from public view.
9:34 pm
so i did my best to try to trace him down but with no luck. so that gives you an example of this respectability, the kind of things the black elite and my family sharm and wanted to have no part of. so i want to come back and say a little bit about women, and one can say i can talk more about what they did in the q&a, but here i just want to point out the way in which women as part of the black elite helped to police the norms of respectable behavior. so they were the ones who were very prominent in defining the norms of respectability. the memoir offers a rare and fascinating glimpse into the social lives of the black elite and tells of the pleasures they enjoyed the sport the horace conditions under which they labored. among the friends of our family or to circle's founded on
9:35 pm
personal preference. these were led respectively by mrs. clarice, that is his wife, and elizabeth west bowers the former gathered about her the studious and the conservative and kept the open house for all visitors of note. the latter was surrounded by loving folks young and old. and this not to have a good time was impossible. dhaka honor of being able to hope the strain of french blood made her queen of entertainers and covered her with a taste in social functions that were irreproachable. many pages later she added a third woman, her mother. so if i can go back, married joseph lyons. her mother to the list. mother was the life of a mine herger but young single and married folks who found in her
9:36 pm
asocial woman whose company was as agreeable as when she was a meeting. with her it was possible to have a good time without fathers. her guests were frequent and they played games were sold for charity. and all like found many an opportunity to pass many delightful hours with her in the home or courtesy, sociability and friendliness reamed supreme. it was permissible for the families to move one circle to another. no hard and fast lines were drawn however eclectic for the same could be now in one circle and the other so you can understand how somebody like tsongas james hewlett with his acting career and his brushes and time spent in prison with his hard labor and so forth would not have been welcome at were courtesy, sociability and
9:37 pm
friendliness ranks supreme. the other thing i can point out about this passage i think it gives you a glimpse into something i try but really had a hard time talking about in my book, which was pleasure because we are so used to talking about subordinated people as oppressed and subordinated and being victims, having a downtrodden life, and always having a sense of obligation of duty and so forth. in the one of the things i try to capture a year and the social life and also their participation in the st. philip's episcopal church was the sense of pleasure and appreciation of beauty that certainly try think of the episcopal the nomination in rituals, and the ability to enjoy the beauty, to enjoy aesthetic experience. so i'm going to close down.
9:38 pm
if you read my book we go from lower manhattan over to brooklyn in 1870, and the book goes up to about 1895. so we have a kind of scattering of the black population and of course later they go up to harlem about after 1910 or whatever. so the conclusion, rather than talk about scattering, i want to talk about coming together. on an october day last fall i took a trip to cypress hills cemetery in brooklyn armed with a map provided by the front office i went searching for the graves of my forebears and their friends who left lower manhattan and leader brooklyn for their final resting place. the white family plot lay on the flat land near a broad path surrounded by tall of leafy trees. there were phillips mother elizabeth, to of the sisters and their family and philip and his family. alexander crummell, charles ray and their families lay nearby.
9:39 pm
so why did have a chance to talk about them in the talks but that figure prominently in the book. right next to phillips great lead kings met recently rediscovered and commemorated with a brand new marker. i was astonished to discover that all these men had bought their plots at the same time between january and may of 1850 and determined not even death would submit them to be causing the past walking up the hill life around the land that st. philip's church had bought for the parishioners in the late 1850's. the family plot which included peter was notable for that jutted skyward. in the waning days of the 19th century, new york's black elite reunited in the ground to read the graves are physical reminders of their lives and commemorations of their def. the serve as an archive, a place of safekeeping, storing memory
9:40 pm
is of the past simply waiting to be brought back to life in the rightness of time thank you. [applause] >> thank you for your presentation. what did it feel like when you had this moment of finding a puzzle piece and also discovering that you were missing other pieces? in putting together these threads did you ask any of the sources how they can to have this information?
9:41 pm
>> the first thing i will point out and it's not exactly what you asked me but i want to make this clear i had nobody living to ask. i had a couple of leaves, a woman who contacted me after seeing something that i wrote on the web, and i was so excited that day i teach at the university maryland and remember running into work saying later this afternoon i'm going to call this woman and she's going to fill in the gatt. she wanted information from me. so i'm just so disappointed. then the second question is finding the manuscript material. i would shake and quiver so finding that when least expected there were 12 shoeboxes about like that, remember in the old days, and i got into the box eight and there's a moment that
9:42 pm
weariness sits a man and you're like how can i do this and i go out in the cold and shake and of course you're in a manuscript room and you have looked at everything outside and you are wearing gloves and the book is open, you are facing the archivist to be sure that you don't run away with anything and you have something called a snake to put down to hold things down and then if that you're magnifying glass say you have all this paraphernalia and around you and it's so hard to get -- you feel the emotion but it's hard to express them. when i found the one of the new york historical society, and those days and days of just going through these written records, and i was like why am i doing this and the young men there i went and told him he got really excited this is the one excitement, i should give you this book. i like yeah, you know why can't.
9:43 pm
so that's number two. this third question was about -- >> [inaudible] >> yes. okay, so at the schaumburg a woman had written a book called quote code the free negro in antebellum new york," it was a columbia dissertation from the 1970's and she died before publishing it. her name was rhoda goldman, and her husband had gotten it published as a book and then gave the manuscript collection to the schaumburg, and the book is old and everybody says go to the recent scholarship. but she had really done her homework. she did everything. and i ended up just repeating what she did just for verifying that everything she had panned out.
9:44 pm
so the material i saw in her book by kind is expected to find there as a primary source not just as a footnote but i was really stunned to find that and nobody knows where the scrapbook page comes from and that is another one of the -- the gaps that i can't fill in where does it come from? somebody cared enough. so, there are poems next to the obituary and each cullom i realized is about something significant in my great-grandfather's life. so there's trinity, the mother church of st. philip about dalia and going to heaven and god saying why do you deserve to be here and he says asked my wife and daughters.
9:45 pm
the person really knew philip and loved him and that's the whole commemoration right there. but i don't know. >> my name is andrea kafeel with of the lower east side project. thank you for the presentation. it gives me goose bumps one of your relatives is actually james hewlett. [laughter] that's amazing. i just took a tour a few weeks ago so this is amazing. my question is where was the lawrence street school located? >> it was on mclaurin street which was one block parallel to thompson >> oats la guardia now, thank
9:46 pm
you. >> agreed to read and - off on bond street, do you have an address like that? >> it's in my book. i think it's 50 something. yes. >> that would have been approximately what year? >> that would have been the 50's he moves to cleveland after the end i'm not sure he ever comes back. he's in cleveland in 1860. comes back to visit but not to live so i would say the shop was in the 1850's. i'm pretty sure that it's in the 1850's.
9:47 pm
>> i don't remember if you mentioned how long it took you from the data you decided to do this until the actual book came out, but i sure that he went through such an of and the down escalator of emotion. how do you know when you were all done and feel like you're finished with? >> that's a good question because nobody else knew and i am not sure i did. i just i was tenacious and i would dig and dig and couldn't give it a rest and after about two or three years my husband said why don't you start writing? i never had anything to write. well you've been looking at this for two or three years. well, i have a health plan, the bear bones of it, but i know it's the detail the will make the books is all. it's all going to be in the detail. so getting the date and it is 56
9:48 pm
bond street. getting that right is going to make a difference in the world so i would say why start writing if i have to go over it so i really wanted the detail and i dug and dug long before people told me to stop especially historians and i may literary critic by training and teaching in an english department and am not a historian but people were laughing saying give it a rest. so i will give you one example. an independent scholar had some of the obituary with james mccann smith and this somewhat cranky independent scholar said how do you know?
9:49 pm
it's in the obituary. well, you don't know. so i decided i should try he and track it down and i started looking for the apprenticeships and then his going to the coverage of the pharmacy of new york which is also in the obituary and i found at the college to become part of columbia in 1903 or 04 and was part of the college of pharmacy in the starkest of columbia and started pestering him and said we don't have good copies which was like i don't believe you. so i decided i'm going to start looking so i started calling historians of the pharmacy and around the country and i called here and there and elsewhere and i finally said this is my last phone call and i reached a man some place i think it was ohio
9:50 pm
state and he said to me the best cash for four missing papers are the wisconsin historical society. i was like i didn't know that and he said yes because this in the university of wisconsin was the first school to his publishing graduate department in a pharmacy beckham 19th century and that is when my history and friends were really laughing but i found it. i went through and i found the record of his entrance of his graduation and syria's leaders of his admission as a member of the college like having a professional membership and the young men who graduated with him there were four of them. they had gotten in.
9:51 pm
they graduated in april of 1844 and became members of 1844 and it took my great-grandfather until 1870's to become a member and the was worth it. after that i said that's enough. [laughter] that's enough. >> you have wonderful information about the 1840's and your family in the 1850's about them in the 70's and 80's, so i'm really wondering about the 1860's and the civil war and what happened with your family if you have any scraps. >> i do and was my talk from last week. at the time of the draft and we to dhaka that the draft riots at the time they were the week of july 13th 1863 and it's possible that once again the black elite thought that class would be free and they weren't, they were
9:52 pm
destroyed as if they were just because they were black so the big story is of colored or from the asylum and the way in which it was by white women seeing that as an illegitimate act on the part of white but of lunch with into words on deserving black children and that was destroying. the home of norman powell was destroyed. the home of elbe reliance was destroyed so it has amazing account on who the ander water street and on the third assault was successful and burned to the ground. so, in williamson's papers i
9:53 pm
came across a notes and it's down there. i won't read, where a sergeant rights to albert winans and says i'm going to try to help you. i don't know what today will bring. meet me at the said the drug store at 3 p.m. and i will conduct you to safety. so the lions and the low white lived on the ander water street just doors from one another and philips might pharmacy was around the corner of frankfort and i speculate that that's the pharmacy so it's just amazing to think the sergeant thought that was a safe enough place to take the family so i started reading through the papers and obituaries and i sound of a story of the preservation of the
9:54 pm
pharmacy so he brought the pharmacy or in 1847 at the corner of frankfurt and gold stayed there until his death and established deep roots in the neighborhood. the neighborhood when he went in in 1847 was mixed. time went on became more and more irish, a poor irish, and according to all of the accounts that i read, he was a good neighbor so he made up much of the medications for them. when they didn't have money he gave the medications away for free. he gave away money in the close. so when the draft riots happened today didn't want to see the drugstore demolished. they didn't want to cecil white harmed. "the new york times" reprints this little dialogue who knows how accurate it is when the businessmen of the neighborhood would also -- the area was called the swamp, and the
9:55 pm
businessmen of the swamp saw what was happening and said you need to run away. he said no, i don't. because as many rioters at have come down upon me as many neighbors i have will protect me and the drug store and was not disturbed. so, yeah. it was a real goose bumps moment yes. >> hi, im shannon triet i was wondering what made you write about your history of your family tree? i've been trying to research my own and i find it to be very hard, difficult to find things that go past the 1800's. go way past that 1800's so i was wondering if you could give me any advice on how you found yours exactly. >> you have to have the passion.
9:56 pm
without the passion -- this took me 11 years so you have to put aside a bunch of time. the passion, the drive, the determination, the willingness to look and look and find nothing and then all of a sudden find something. one of the reasons i took tactics i did -- because there's such a way i could give written of the black new yorkers in the century -- but it's for that reason, to encourage people to look for their family history. people say you are so lucky you had a family to write about, he found material. i can't do that and i say have you tried? and they say no. of one of the things i want to do is encourage people to try. maybe i was indeed lucky because i found the enough material about them. but how i wish my forefather had
9:57 pm
been james smith or georgetown and i would have found a lot more material on them. so you take what you have, that scrapped and try to embroider without going into fiction or making up why is that to really give it context. so that's the way that you have to do it. but don't give up. [laughter] >> ibm usually. we've discovered and on the ground railroad site in our neighborhood on 29th street, the gibbons underground railroad side, and so instead of feeling satisfied that made my co-chair and i even more obsessed with research.
9:58 pm
so i recognize the phrase looking for a needle in a haystack. am i coming to a question? [laughter] >> what source is a deterrent to? have you started research? >> i was lucky that i got -- well, my cochaired a lot of research on the quaker abolitionist who lived in the building which was destroyed during the draft riots but then i kicked researching for more letters of the gibbons family, and i was sent with a hot tip by judith wollman, a historian. she said with columbia university. so i found a record of fugitives, 1855 by sidney howard so that set me off on a search because i found the most extraordinary thing. sarah more was married to her husband and the division's
9:59 pm
previous home so now i'm trying to find sarah. i did find her listed in new haven connecticut but it's been -- that's taken me two years to find out. i'm going to go back to schaumburg but i shouldn't say on the record, there is one staff member who terrified me. he was so mean and i'm going to get my courage and go back. >> i've had experience with that, too. i will talk to you later. [laughter] i will talk to you later and give you the name -- >> thank you. >> -- of somebody wonderful who will help you and i just saw her a couple nights ago. >> and i just bought your book. [laughter]
10:00 pm
>> thank you. let me tell you. there was a vigilant society, the african-american vigilant society. so you could look our ground for that. david would be born in nickname to research and a new book out i think it is a year old on david. >> i have that. i do have a question of. have you ever heard of louis napoleon? i'm trying to find him, too because he helped rescue this woman and was working with sidney howard then the editor and the secretary devotee do everything of the antislavery society. so now i know enough to know him and i know nothing. >> thank you. >> charles ray's daughter put out a memoir of his life after he died i think that it's 1886 and that is about to schaumburg
10:01 pm
so you could look at that because he was a member of the judge ... ayittey triet i don't do very much with a vigilance society because i couldn't find any relationship between that and my family and i couldn't start talking about everything. my editors were going nuts for the blanket of the book but i would say david, charles ray and charles ray's memoir what about pursuing henry boyda beecher? >> i just started to scratch the surface with that. louis napoleon worked with him, too and in the brooklyn historical society and i realize as very helpful as they were i was searching in the long collection. at the brooklyn historical society. so, a woman -- excuse me, i have
10:02 pm
to stop to the weekend talk leader and i will give you names. >> thank you, carla. [applause] >> coming up next
10:03 pm
10:04 pm
up next on book tv come president rall riggins's son, ron, the former president would have turned 100 on february 6th. shortly before that date, ralf ronald reagan talked of his book my father at 100. from politics and prose bookstore of washington, d.c., this is just under an hour. >> thank you, mike. is this on? can you hear me okay? good. well, thank you very much. this is very unlikely even to actually have to say, not that i don't do readings as i call them of the politics and prose, in the unlikely part of this because i never really intended to do anything like this which i am 52-years-old. i managed to at least get through half a century and never
10:05 pm
considered i would do something like this but, a little less than a year ago, february 6 last year i was talking to my mother on the occasion will father's 99th birthday when of course the 100th birthday came up. can you believe that he is going to be 100, she says to me? she calls him devotee of course to her kids still to read and i am saying to her yes, isn't that something? that's just incredible. in sight i am thinking please, not another aircraft carrier. please don't make me go to the dedication of a bridge or something like that. but then i got to thinking about that 100 years. 100 years as a long time. that 100 years is a particularly long time, a momentous time. it was a different world he came
10:06 pm
from when which may explain some of his best his family noticed often nothing grim or strange or creepy really, he's always believed to almost too good. he doesn't gossip about anybody, not once like most men he never blustered, either to read most can be counted on occasionally to come home and i'm going to kick that son of a gun -- not my father. never to read never raised his voice really. he did once almost non-dak mike dever olver with a set of keys firing at his chest. i don't know what he was upset about but he never yelled or anything like that to be it he was a soft-spoken guy and if you wanted to make you feel bad because you'd done something wrong, his tone would acquire a
10:07 pm
kind of graphic paucity after we started speaking slower and slower until finally in the book a sound like just gerbils squeaking after a while. but i was conscious of the fact when i started that my father has this sort of scarcely reachable court to him the percentage all of us all in the president of the united states, governor of california and all that, when you see is what you get. the same guy at the dinner table was delivering the state of the union address. that 90% was absolutely consistent and trustworthy. count on it. all day long. but there was this 10% metaphorically speaking that he held very close. and everybody in his family -- those of us who knew him very well were aware of this 10%, were aware there was a part of
10:08 pm
him, even my mother, that you couldn't always reach. a very, very private part of him and that is the part to my determined to go looking for because the was the part most inaccessible and the was the mysterious part, the was the anik am i, not the 90%. that was just right out there. the 10%, where did that come from? where was that all about? so i went to try to find that married to the 100 years is telling me something. that 10% had to be forming itself in his early years swaybacked at dix in and all these other towns he lifted and so that's where i went searching curia i have to say if you are going to write a story about your own father it certainly helps if you have a pulitzer prize-winning biographer taking
10:09 pm
notes. a lot of your research is already done. so i rely on many of the books that have already been written for a fact st dates and seduce and things like that but of course those people have accomplished edward morris being that pulitzer prize-winning biographer for 14 years, but they didn't grow up with him. they were looking at him from the outside, looking at him from the inside. many people know more about the policy and politics than i do. i didn't make the study or cover him while he was in the white house. but i grew up with them. i knew him since i was this big. people remember him as president and for the challenger disaster may be worth some state of the union address or the assassination attempt some things like that. i remember going away back when he would pick me up over his head and fly me to bed at night making a propeller sound that he
10:10 pm
would do down under the doorways and into the bed and finally he would sing me a little song and sleep me to sleep. that's my memory of him. but still, he was a mysterious, so off i go looking. i didn't stop at just the child. i was interested in the family history as well so i went all the way back to ireland to who came out of the mountains or nobody's quite sure, they listed both when they talk about him, and he married a girl named to margaret murphy and they lived outside of the valley which may be a town that gave her devotee followed my father. but this is where they really lived. there is no do list anymore because a was just a collection of like mud and sticks to you and me. they make their homes out of mud
10:11 pm
and sticks and the immelt back into the turf after a while to read these were poor irish people, peasants really. the owned nothing. they were landless laborers. the woodwork other people's fields. in the great calamity of the 19th century the irish, the population today has not recovered fully from the potato famine of the late 1840's. there still aren't as many in today as there were in 1845 let's say. so right in the middle of this, george poor, literally dirt poor the family at that point, michael was the only child in the family. my great, great grandfather, she learned to read somehow. he became a soap maker and then moved the family to england and
10:12 pm
here is one of the only pieces of research i can claim and be proud of. i got a little thin mail from ancestry.com. i don't know if you know that it is the geological web site and i founded four years ago. now available the 1851 british -- 1851? the move to 1849 and lived in south london. maybe they are in the census. maybe michael and his bride are in the census. but they are irish peasants living in a slum. no one counts those people. well, they were very efficient as it turns out and in fact they did count those kind of people there is michael now so she's now michael reagan living with a bunch of other poor irish youth from southwest of ireland and
10:13 pm
don bentley street in south london i know he's going to mary katherine while he's there i wonder is she in the census? i go looking for her and sure enough there is kathryn living had a corner across the street from michael reagan so they must have that right there. she's a gardiner living with poor irish people from the southwest of ireland including a young woman who is identified as a hitter ticker. you don't see too many have their pictures these days. so this is the sort of a family that he came from. michael comes over to america and he has some children of one of which is john michael for the first time reagan who gets jack reagan, have recalls and jack and that's my father-son. what did i find when i start of looking at my father getting past of a family history and
10:14 pm
stuff? we think of him i fink -- i do -- as a big strapping confident kind of guy not afraid of anything. what could scare him? but when he was a little way it turns out he was under size as a use. his family moved around a lot come he was the new kid in school, she was picked on by police and was chosen last four games on the playground and spent a lot of this time alone. he spent a lot of his time in places like the attic of a rental housing in galesburg or the previous owner left strange artifacts, as he said, up in the attic so he would spend his time up in floods sunbeams in the attic going live through all these things and strange plants many of which seemed to come from the west and i think there he began to form this impression of the west as a wide-open
10:15 pm
landscape. but instead of roaming the landscape as an undersized city he saw himself growing into a hero in that landscape. he could do heroic things and his mother encouraged him in this. she called him perfectly wonderful and she never changed her opinion of him. it was always her perfectly wonderful ronald. to the father what he saw is he makes a helluva lot of malaise for dutch man, doesn't he? that's how he became dutch treat everybody but his mother. everybody else called him the edge when he was young so this is a little kid dreaming these dreams of this life ahead where he will be a hero and he will run this landscape being the guy in the white hat who saves the day. the compassion yet removed hero
10:16 pm
because he's alone, salam terrie. by the time he's 15 he's found perhaps the perfect job for him and he calls it the best job he ever had. it was a lifeguard in the park north of dixon illinois with a father moved by that time. for devotee and lifeguard clauses of the local ymca and distinguished himself as a phenomenally talented swimmer and studied artificial respiration so he knew he would be a lifeguard and he went on to the park to talk to the park and the concession stand and the data driven down and the he completed his sophomore year in high school and lots of people come, hundreds of people in the summer would be there and look at him and say i don't know.
10:17 pm
he may have taken classes at the y. but he's going to have to die even there and saved people and he said give aa a chance. he can do it and he did. 70 years, 77 people pulled out of the river. as i did the math correctly that would come to 11 which would work out to about one person say one life saved for ten days or so on that river. imagine being a 15-year-old or 79 or 20-years-old for that matter what do you for your summer job? every ten days or so i will save somebody's life. some people say sure he goes into the river and pulls a person out. that can't be too oppressive. i visited for the first time and it flows to the mississippi it's a major river, a powerful river. you get caught up in that
10:18 pm
current and you don't know how to swim and you are in trouble headed downstream in a hurry somebody has to come and get you out of that trouble. well this who that was for seven years. he learned as i think it was a perfect job for him because he was the focus of attention, the man of the hour when things went wrong she was the one of a deterrent to get at the same time she could remain solidary. you have to be removed as the lifeguard and you can't be off choosing the concession stand or hanging out with your buddies telling them you've got to be paying attention and giving them these nearsighted he's got to be paying attention staring through his thick glasses the whole time trying to figure out who is going to get in trouble and where.
10:19 pm
he was thinking the planet's aligned, keeping the universe in order by pulling those people out of the river, drowning people for chaos and my father couldn't stand chaos. he liked his moral orderly so that he would be free to dream and peaceful tranquillity so he would dive into the rivers and pull people out. almost nobody ever think to him for doing this. he learned a lot about human nature, too i think. no man would think him for being rescued and he did dillinger limitation of him because after he would do the rescue as his father actually told him because he complained no one ever thinks me and he said to get a wally or stomp and carve a notch for every person you rescue so he would come 77 notches on a driftwood log eventually but he would imitate people coming up to him and then he rescued he
10:20 pm
pulled out of the river and really in trouble out there at all and he carved them off john alana. >> one man did think him and the only whoever did this as a giant of a man that arrived at the river one day with somebody reading to him because he was totally blind. 6 feet five and my father fought hell am i going to get him out of the river if he gets in trouble out there? he told me when i was little there were some techniques they did not teach you at the ymca for rescuing people, some of which involved hitting them with a right cross to the jewels of you could get them back to shore
10:21 pm
because tirana anybody will tell the rescuer, you are frantic out there. a 15-year-old boy you have to rescue the men who will be stronger and are now desperately terrified calling at anything to stay on top of the water and now she's confronted with a guy that is five times the size what is he going to do? sure enough someone gets into the water and start paddling out and gets sucked into the middle of the current and downstream he goes and he does what drowning people do he starts slapping of the water with his hands and into the water goes like father thinking all the time this may be the last time i do this. he's going to take me to the bottom and we are going to be rolling along all the way to sterling down the stream. but he says as soon as he reached the man and put his hand on him, the man instantly
10:22 pm
relaxed and let him do whatever he wanted because he had been led around all his life and as soon as he felt a human touch he felt unsafe and relaxed and the was the only man that ever. he did get some notoriety for doing this, the first time he got his name in the paper was a rescue. she closed the park at about nine thanks 30 and he is to do this in the lights people linger forever and he had been there since ten in the morning. i want to go home. but people wanted me to stay because it was hot so he started taking little pebbles and flicking them into the water and sure enough people would say what was that? what was that? just the old river rafts that usually emptied the beach. so they had done their job and
10:23 pm
he was at the concession stand helping ed close of and all of a sudden, three people come to young women and young man comes screaming out of the darkness from the direction of the river. help, help. their friend had this look down to the river unbeknownst to anybody and wasn't the strongest they fought went under so now it's my time coaster become 10:00 at night and dark and there is a man in the river whose drowning. so off - author goes in a full gallop towards the river listening now because he can't see the man. remember he's near site and has to get rid of his glasses to go in the water so he is listening for the sound of the man struggling. where do i need to go to find him? he plunges into the darkness, swings out, the next day's headline james snatched from the
10:24 pm
jaws of death, a lifeguard ronald reagan helped in quite a struggle they reported he was able to subdue him and bring him to shore with one arm against the current with him, dragged him up onto the lawn, perform artificial respiration to revive him after which it was determined he was okay and sent home, but he had his name in the paper. i think he was probably happy about that. other than that, and maybe the lateness of the hour the rescue probably would have seemed rather routine to him, just another day on the river. my father was a storyteller. his great opus was himself. he created a narrative, a template for his life to read it wasn't that he was making that a story about himself that he would pretend to live. he was creating a template in his mind and trying to live up
10:25 pm
to it he wanted to be a hero but not just be seen as a hero and he really wanted to be a hero. when you are a storyteller sometimes editing is required and i discovered in some of my father's early stories i read as a child that there was some editing done to focus the narrative usually focusing on him and the iconic story from his youth is one winter night, 1922, he comes home from the y or maybe it was a library or anywhere car he spent a lot of time reading there and he's coming at the avenue towards his home in dixon and he notices as he approaches the front door that there is a dark shape by the doorstep which when he arrives closer he discovers it's his own father passed out dead drunk belching up corn whiskey. he has been aware that his
10:26 pm
father how would give in to some drinking. i think that's exaggerated that he didn't drink. the parents would have roused about this. his mother was quite high as and didn't approve of that drinking and things like that. he heard the fights before but just through the covers over his head and tried to ignore. in this iconic moment she's having his coming of age experience so he says while he was tempted to step of a father and coincided fix himself something to eat and go to bed he couldn't leave him out in the snow so he grabs his father's collar and drags them over the threshold and somehow muscles them up this steep narrow in gold stairway to his bedroom and puts them into bed and goes down and briefs not a word to his mother when she gets home as she would of course the threshold,
10:27 pm
the staircase, and i thought about dutch who probably couldn't way 100 pounds at that point but a rather burleigh jack who weighed about 180 or so and i thought to myself she certainly didn't strike him up those stairs. i have no doubt he passed him drunk on the doorstep and no doubt that he grabbed his coach and probably gave him and shake but what happened suspect is that jack quote gup and staggered to his feet and probably had a few things to say at that point, profession and probably as well but the would-be destruction. the young man having his coming of age moment, giving jack too many lines would not work. he has to hit the cutting room floor and he would do things
10:28 pm
like this. he had a tendency, skidding through a lot of stuff, to engage in a certain denial. he was taunted at denial when he needed to be sometimes too rather humorous effects. my wife and i once in washington while he was president or accompanying him to and the tent, i can't remember what it was what we were in the presidential motorcade coming back from whatever this was and there were people lining the streets and his waving and all that. at this point in his life he decided with american aid was a thumbs-up gesture so he had been traveling around the country from so that people. no jester sood a man so well i have to say. as we were driving back he was giving a thumbs-up to the people outside of the car. we reached a certain point and some man in his 30s or so got under this of course of the
10:29 pm
police tape or work through the line, i don't know how he got so close to the car but there he was maybe a body link for two from the limousine on my father's side of the car promoting a different hand gesture. [laughter] he had a different room digit hoisted in my father's direction. you couldn't hear through the bulletproof glass but a word beginning with mother and ending in another word was being deployed at the same time. without the same beat he turns to us and says see, i think it's catching on. [laughter] that was my dad. i suppose i should say because you probably heard about some of this, i should say a word about the present controversy, which is apparently erupted with the publication of this book. my brother took it upon himself to help sell copies of the book
10:30 pm
so i owe him a thank you note i guess and he did it without even reading the book. that's how good a brother he is. the centers of course another alzheimer's. my father died of alzheimer's of course. he was diagnosed several years after he left office. i say two things in the book that really to this in any way. one, i admit midway through the term as president from '83, '84, that i would occasionally notice things that seem just a hitch from the getty of this house i would characterize in any specific way and not anything for anybody that didn't gerlach in the house with him would know this. it's a change in there for a film or their body language, the way they tell the story, anything is going to tip you off
10:31 pm
and maybe they are a little under the weather or having a bad day or something. so i mentioned that i did have concerns. i don't put a name to them or diagnose them with alzheimer's at the time i simply mention these concerns and i have to say that he was in the mid-70's by that time, the oldest president elected. he was losing his hearing and a heated wearing hearing aids, so that makes you -- and he had been shot and nearly killed which will take a little out of your sales. so i have all sorts of things to worry about and this was just sort of background to worry. i do say later in the one chapter we deal with any of this there is one sentence that specifically links the presidency of alzheimer's and it is a deduction based on when he was diagnosed and what we now know about alzheimer's disease which is it is a process that extends for years even decades
10:32 pm
before identifiable observable symptoms are present. if i'm going to get alzheimer's in my seventies, you can look at my brain right now and tell their would be changes going on right now. .. i've been answering questions for the last week and a half of people saying yes, but you say and i say no i didn't. show me where i say.
10:33 pm
they can't because they didn't read the book and they're making stuff up. so i pretty much explain to you exactly what my side of that controversy is. i don't know if he had alzheimer's for sure when he was in office. i think it's a likelihood the disease was present. i did not see signs of dementia, nor do i see that i did and that is about it as far as that goes. at heart this is not a political book by the way. i've no interest in doing a political history of them. it is a boat primarily about his early life, his formative years. it is an attempt to buy sun to find his father, to go looking in these distant -- the distant past as it were for his father's rather elusive character. in the last chapter he bring you up to date -- somewhat up to date into the white house and to the end of his life. i just determined that was the way to embed both, to jump ahead
10:34 pm
and so that's what he did and you can't do that without mentioning alzheimer's of course. since i mentioned that i knew it had to do with it forthrightly and his honesty and cleanly as i could. that's what i have to say about it. i will take any questions you may pass. it would be happy to entertain questions. so use the microphone if you want or just shout out from where you are a guest. [applause] >> one of the things you mention its incredible weight, which i had occasion to witness and has been so photogenic. there is indication the white house for it to go through stacks of photographs with vips to identify them and there wasn't a single shot in which he was not kidnapped. >> and looking good.
10:35 pm
i bet his drivers license photo is a keeper. really, but i could not take a bad picture. >> that's not my question. it has to do with religion. i haven't read your whole book. i've read a few of the first chapters, but she mentioned his catholic/protestant mother or father, that sort of thing. >> jack was an on-again off-again catholic and nelly was a disciple of christ as they call it. >> my curiosity is around that, as his son to emulate what his parents did with them in terms of letting them decide later on in life vis-à-vis healing the children? hatted religion -- a wasn't a carter with his religion on his sleeve, but he wasn't a george washington had never talked about it in public. so i'd be curious to get your overview on that whole issue. >> the whole issue as it was a private kind of thing. he wasn't ashamed of it. he was quite open and needed to
10:36 pm
win an election. but he did not -- he did not go around the house like some holy roller or anything. we weren't having bible readings or anything like that in the house. he was a regular church goer when he was governor of california and before that when he got to d.c. here, he felt a little awkward going to church because he know a district things and could potentially be a threat to other people. i mean, we see that happen sometimes to politicians. he did follow after his parents and nelly in particular is a disciple of christ. their doctrine is you do not try and indoctrinate young people, children into your religion because they're not old enough to appreciate this. they can make decisions for themselves and you need to let them do that. he took that attitude with me, although i don't and he was entirely happy about it. i announced when i was 12 years
10:37 pm
old as i relate in the book that i was not going to church anymore. i had the same ringtone by the way. he came in to get me to go to church. come on, put your suit on. i said i'm not going. i don't believe this anymore. and he was pretty upset about it, but it hurt more. i could see he was very worried, but he wasn't going to wrestle me into church. i wasn't going to work. put me in a half nelson and take me to the altar for some sort of exorcism. but i knew it wasn't going to give. he wasn't just going to rollover. so when they came home to find the pastor of our church in a living room waiting there to have a talk with me. nonmodal was his name who later became the pastor of our church when he found out he was tending to his thoughts on occasion with the same around his ankles. but he was a bit kind of a
10:38 pm
popular guy who used to play football for ucla, and he was this big imposing guy and he was going to convince me to come back to church. but within a few minutes i realized i can have this argument with him. i was worried at first because he is a professional. i can hold my own here. after a few more minutes he gave up and landed up talking about football. my father was disappointed when he left i was still an atheist. >> that he didn't feel the need to commute with god before making decisions? >> search and not in any exhibition in the way. i think you would pray quietly at times for guidance. i know after he was shot he believed that his god had spared him, but he didn't see that is the kind of mandate like you're so special. you know, this is a
10:39 pm
responsibility he sought to do good from there on out, which i really, as much as i disagreed about things, he really meant well and always thought he was doing the best he could for the country. >> if your mother has read your book, how has she reacted quite >> well, she has read the book and when all this kerfuffle came up, i thought i'd better ask her what she wants me to say about this. so i called her up and said they're going to ask me. people have been ascribing sentiments to you and i don't want to do that myself. tell me what to say. she said you tell them i read it, i'd love to it made me cry and i'm very proud of you. such a mom thing to say. [applause] >> i particularly loved hearing you, the voice of reason on air america in the last two years.
10:40 pm
>> you haven't been around our dinner table. >> i'm sure that's true. so is anything during? any chance he can hear you can nationally on radio? >> it is possible although there has been talk already with my publisher about maybe doing another book, which i would very much like to do. i rather liked that process in the home rhythm of that is opposed to the daily grind of a three-hour show. and temperamentally i would say i'm not as well-suited to radio radio as they would be to something like this it seems to me. i am not a yeller and there's a lot of that going around. to these book to resume duties radio satellite tour is for use in may keep throwing the hosts at you from this time in that town. we got to tampa, florida. but ted and jack show in florida. you might want to avoid the tag and jack show for at least ted.
10:41 pm
within one minute is getting me on the air, ted had called me and ass, threatened to kick my ass and needed something extra to wipe his ass point. i thought, can i speak to jack? is very grown up in the pair they are? christos went on. this is all he said to me the whole time. i said, you're a small pathetic man, ted. and it turned out he was -- well i won't say -- she is just what you expect i discovered later. >> i used to work for bill foster, democrat from illinois sports stream. we tampa go and dixon our
10:42 pm
district or you could imagine for a democrat. but we had a picture of your dad. not that he didn't like your dad, but if we do pay homage to your dad come as that was the proper forum to do it. so my question to you is out of the bag job is when the minor republican party votes are done and they constantly do, frankly for emulate his success and personality more than anything else. when poker.for policy positions are things that you think you know him and he just think he wouldn't say that or he wouldn't do that, does that make you mad? douceur to dismiss? how do you react to that quite >> it can be annoying at times i'll admit to that. but it comes with the territory. i understand why they're doing it. who else do they have? they're not going to go to nick
10:43 pm
some. harding? hoover? they're pretty much stuck with ronald reagan, which is not so bad. i do note that many of those people not only did know them, but probably never met him and yet they are speaking for him. i am very reluctant to speak for my father and any specific legal sense. i don't know what he would feel about today's issues. he left the scene a long time ago and presumably his thinking would've been evolved along with the times. the white on getting too well, you'd want taxes to be lower ord want to repeal the health care plan or anything like that. i don't know what he would feel. i do so confident in saying he would be distressed by the level of the 12 that we hear these days. he was a simple man and a gentleman and i think a lot of this is, particularly directed at the white house, the birthday nonsense and all that stuff, he would just find that unique dignity of our country and would be distressed. there are a couple of things he
10:44 pm
could be distressed by the reference for the s.t.a.r.t. treaty because that was such a big thing for him and jon kyl and some of those things were trying to hold it up. i mean, he would find that awful. the only other issue, which i was tempted to put in the book, but my editor commits new cannot have any politics at all because that will be the entire focus of any discussion he had with anybody and that would be the torture issue. my father signed a covenant called the deployment and he meant that. and that kind of cowardice and moral purpose to it wasn't just part of his or her. he would be nauseated by that. but that's my personal opinion. >> could you explain his political evolution? apparently he was a roosevelt democrat. >> the 14th district is so republican out there come his
10:45 pm
family were real outliers. check in on a roosevelt democrat and republican county and they were weird and all sorts of ways. not where the disturbing weird, but just different. they were very theatrical people in a rather stoic tightlipped farm country. they love to put on plays and stuff and they were quite flamboyant about the whole thing. they were bohemians in a way. dixon was reluctant to admit this, but dixon was the tower but equal were not allowed to spend the night, not welcome to spend the night. in a hotel during an 1820s and 1930s. but that wasn't the case in the reagan home. i related in the book they arrive and dixon on their way back from playing some games somewhere and pull into a hotel in there too that players on the team and they say we've got room
10:46 pm
for your team, except the two but players. in the coach, matt mckenzie with his name, a tough, flinty little scotsman said will go to another hotel. no hotel in town assistant manager is going to take those two black players. find this match, will sleep on the best. wilmot, my father at this point intervenes and says, you know, play with. so everyone doesn't fit on the bus, when he put me in a cab with my two friends and will go to my folks house. what are folks going to think of you showing up at two but players? and indeed, jack didn't care. jack didn't let the family see birth of a nation, d. w. griffith's film. damned if i let anyone in my family see that because it's about the clan against the blacks he says. and i'm not going to forget it. we're not going to die. so they were different.
10:47 pm
>> was it is time that ge? >> yeah, not so much het. he became a conservative probably by the early 50s, late 40s or early 50s. [inaudible] >> yeah, he did. he voted for truman but then he voted for ike later. i think it was really the meetings that he had with some writers when he was president of the screen actors guild in one meetings are one of the writers informed him that given the choice between the american constitution that he would choose the soviet period and was so shocked, my father, that he thought we've got a real menace here. i've got to enlist in the fight against this. -- just sort of a brief overview. i don't get into that because
10:48 pm
i'm going back further and earlier, but that is my understanding. yes, ma'am. >> thank you so much. you have inherited her father's gift of humor and speechify if that's a word. and you may not know the answer to this, after the recent tragedies in tucson, i have heard conversations about had there been a movement of some kind after the attempt on your father's life to do something to change that god? perishes conversation that had your dad perhaps been a bit more involved and found them -- to do something to correct the gun laws or the administration. and i just wondered if there had ever been any talk in your own
10:49 pm
family of just the necessity or importance of that. >> not too much. i grew up with guns. when i was six years old my father presented me with it 22 caliber rifle which a cab to my room with bullets. i knew at age six. he explained to me this is not a toy. he never play with the spirit and friends come over, don't play with this like it's a toy. you leave it up there. you're a toy guns, play with them. and never ever point a real gun at anybody if it's loaded. forget if it's loaded or not. whatever. you never point a gun at somebody. as soon as loaded. the guns ritual for him. he didn't fetishize guns the way so many people do now. all they can think of when they think about the constitution of the united states is i get to carry my gun. it guarantees you the right to carry my gun. my gun, my god, my time.
10:50 pm
if you had a penis, you wouldn't need the gun so badly. come on, get a grip on your whatever. [laughter] i don't know exactly what kind of have been. obviously he was sympathetic to the second amendment. but he didn't seem to fetishize the way so many people do now. i hope that answers someone at least. >> her father grew up in a time when the worst was an issue. he's the first divorced president. can you talk about his marriages and how the divorce affected things. >> 12 chainwide wyman and went to another which lasted 53 years until he died. i think the period of time in the late 40s, but the period of time when he was divorced from jane wyman and his film
10:51 pm
career post-world war ii was beginning to go down. this was a rough, rough time for him. divorce and playing in a charity softball game shatters his femur and he is laid up on crutches and a cast in hanging at his mother's house for a long period of time. he recovers in time to go off into the hasty heart with patricia neal and richard todd who steals the movie. so meanwhile, jane wyman is about to collect an academy award. so he's just going to beat up like nothing's going right around 1949 or so. so that was that. i don't think he ever would've filed for divorce himself. however desperately he may have been in that marriage. i don't know how unhappy i was, but he never would've asked for
10:52 pm
divorce. she did and i think she's moving on on with her career and saw him maybe as a liability. i don't want to be hanging out with somebody who was lower in the totem pole than me in that kind of thing. even if i have to be married and have children, i don't want to do that. so i think that was coming in now, anyway that's pretty much all i have to say about that carriage. anybody else? [inaudible] >> yes. >> obviously a mother loves her dad dearly. and so she was portrayed always has been somewhat of a very strong person. what influence does your band have your dad? as far as his decisions in her opinion on things happening
10:53 pm
politically? >> she was not a political person. so the idea that she was sort of pulling the strings behind the scenes in getting him to sign this bill are not that they'll come it didn't happen. she encouraged and certainly with rapprochement between words the soviet union and gorbachev. she and i talked to about the aids crisis when it was apparent the administration was dragging its feet and not doing enough. so we teamed up with them i'm not. but mostly she had a great antenna for other people's agendas that may conflict with them. i'm talking about people who work with them. for personnel issues or where she would make her feelings now more than politics or policy or anything like that. that was done we can, for instance, famously hung up on her case. that was the end of time. >> would these be private things
10:54 pm
are things discussed in the family quarters? >> both. again, she and i had talked about the aids crisis together, but mostly that would be pillow talk basically. >> will finish at the last question. >> high, so happy to be here to meet up finally. i just have a short story and that is i was very much against her father's presidency and not a fan at all. i was an army navy club at the time when he was president and even during that time a sort of slowly saw the part being turned into basically a homeless shelter and something which myself and others connect it with some of his policies. there was one day that they walked up high street and is there in a lunch break and i was the only person, no cars and i'm
10:55 pm
standing there in a scarlet coat and the garage door slowly opened them up and out with the now sort of pope mobile comes out and your father and i were only about four feet away and he turned on high street going the wrong way. and he looked at me and i looked at him. i'm not wonderful charm and is really difficult not to like in many ways. that was my little brush with mr. reagan. >> you can spend five minutes and not like them. many people tried. people would come to meeting and maybe in a group and think i'm not going to like him. and you know, they leave 15 minutes later. he's a great guy, you know. i still don't agree with them, but he's a good guy. i felt the same way. we argued about the vietnam war when i was young. we used to argue about environmental issues sometimes. but you know, we would stay
10:56 pm
friends and sometimes he wouldn't bother to argue. one story and we can go to a book signing i guess. i am writing courses with him and my father had kind of a 19th 19th century view of nature. he loved being out in nature, loved being outdoors, but he kind of got admin have dominion over nature and was man's responsibility to manage the whole enterprise basically. and so we arrived on horseback in a star in his blood through the night before so there's deadlines and stuff scattered on the ground beneath his trees. he turns to me in the side of an says that maybe nature to some people, but i think we can do better. [laughter] and i just thought, what the. >> he was the package. he was really the package for republicans. >> again, who else --
10:57 pm
>> we all admire your courage as well. >> thank you all. [applause]
10:58 pm
>> the ayes are 74 and a 76. the motion to occur to senate bill 365 is agreed to. >> the education department is hosting a three-day conference in washington on school safety. on the second day of the conference, education secretary, arne duncan gave a wide-ranging speech about federal education policy.
10:59 pm
his remarks are 25 minutes. [applause] >> i'm going to keep my remarks pretty brief. i'll take questions when i'm done in open up to the audience. a major stir by saying thank you at the difference you make in schools and classrooms and districts and states around the country today is absolutely extraordinary. and i know the amazing challenges you face every single day when you try and hoper nation's children get a great education and had the opportunity and support and guidance to fulfill their tremendous academic and social potential. the challenges our country and young people are facing are frankly staggering. rates of poverty we haven't seen in a long, long time. rates of homelessness, rates of unemployment. i do know of a district in this country what title i accounts are going down, not a.

119 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on